Thursday, July 9th, 2015 -( 18°C / 64°F & Clear & Sunny @ 10:30 am in Atlantic Canada )-
— I’ve been rethinking the value and potential of internet games. Role playing games especially. First Person Shooters never did float my boat.
Elise, one of the ‘builder’ characters in our game world.
— Back in 1987 or 8, I got my first look at interactive text-based games on GEnie. A close friend was raving about a game she was playing and wanted to show me what it was all about. She went through the process of showing me how to ‘roll’ a character and pick his or her stats, occupation or ‘class’ in a fantasy world that in a text game was entirely in your imagination. Her character popped into that world and an ice hole player with a strong character came along and killed her brand new character with two punches. She was logged out, she didn’t have to suffer the humiliation of the ice hole ( or Troll, as we call them in discussion groups etc, the morons who just want to jump in and stir up trouble and try to make everybody feel like a third or fourth class citizen in a universe ruled by ice holes and jerks who want to dance around and sing ‘I’m number one- you ain’t doo doo-‘.) My friend groaned, “They’re not supposed to do that, they know they’re not supposed to do that. I just might report him, get him barred from the game.” I wasn’t impressed with on-line gaming after that.
— A couple years later, after I had moved back closer to my parents, with my father ailing, then wheel-chair bound – my mother at her wits end from trying to deal with that, and my father’s always abrasive personality – He watched ‘all in the family’ that he called the Archie Bunker Show, and took notes – mental notes – and picked up a lot of put down words and nasty things to call people to their faces and thought that was cool. The same friend who had tried to interest me in playing on-line computer games – when they cost six bucks an hour to play in ‘other than prime time’ – they cost 18 bucks an hour during prime time – drove 250 miles from an inland university town to be around friendly people and interact with somebody she knew wouldn’t try to humiliate her or in any way make her feel uncomfortable about herself in a world where even good-looking young women like her can feel like they’d been born with targets on their hearts and souls and minds, and clouds over their heads radiating “Humiliate me- Make me more miserable than I already am – PLEASE!”
— I don’t think I should go into an explanation that we’d both come from – ‘not quite fully functional’ – families, had one parent each who was at least border line alcoholic – and relatives who would go way out of their way to make us feel less than human any chance they got. But I should say that she was at least as intelligent, imaginative, sensitive and creative as I am, I was really impressed by the way she could sit down, sigh, wrinkle her forehead and gasp through several worried looks as she thought her way through something, gasp or sigh one more time, write out an outline, smile, then go sit down at her computer and write a work of fiction with engaging, believable and likeable characters, follow that outline and get it done. All the time I’d be writing my brains out, not having any idea where my characters were leading me, and having no clue at all whether anybody else in creation would ever want to spend time reading about my characters and the crazy situations they got themselves into.
— And while she was in my old home town, she asked if she could use my computer to check her email a couple of times and came back with an “Oh shit!” To which, of course I replied, “What’s the matter?” And she said, “Roxy’s gonna have her baby tonight and since I’m one of the characters who can’t attack or be attacked by other player’s characters I’m supposed to be there and be on guard against things that go bump in the night-” -or something quite close to that. After I said, “Huh?” She replied, “Oh- this is Dragons Gate- the new game I told you about a couple of times, the one that is so much more fun than that other one I was playing.”
— I think I felt like Steve McQueen in a movie I once saw, who has just heard an explanation for something that could never make any sense to anyone, but he nodded, and said, “Okay, I’ll do it-” And I nodded and said, “I have a modem- you know your account stuff and your password?”
— And my friend was in seventh heaven, I never saw her so animated and full of bliss and ready to party- I mean, she was like a kid at her own birthday party. We got set up with her at my clunky old apple IIe – she was used to a less clunky Mac- and I sat back, somewhat puzzled and a little bit amazed at her transformation, maybe a little bit bedazzled by the power of a computer game.
— I showed her how to start recording everything that happened onto my ridiculous $795.00 – ten megabyte hard drive. She was as animated as a lot of university students might be, if they were watching a really good movie with a room full of friends, maybe slurping down legal or illegal beverages and forgetting their inhibitions bouncing up and down in the chair and going ‘hoot hoot!’ as she typed faster than I ever could.
— She laughed and blushed and beamed and tried to explain everything about every character who was there for this on-line gaming event. She had anecdotes about every character, and each character’s player. She’d been in touch with all of them, some of them over the phone. I think she’d even met one or two in person. And then they got into wandering around the virtual landscape that was all in our imaginations, trying to find just the right spot for Roxy to do her birthing dance. – Roxy’s player was one of the artists who -worked for the brat- behind the scenes at “The Simpsons” and she was fun. She had two other characters who were quite busy in the game and you never could have guessed she played all three. So Roxy found a nice tree or pole to hold on to and do her dance with my friend’s Forest Elf character standing guard and then – “Wooosh!” -A dark cloud, something from a spell came over everything. Nobody could see anything at all – but they could hear Roxy’s voice calling frantically as an impression of dark wings flapped and her voice got further and further away- and when the darkness lifted, Roxy was gone. Everybody there, and in a very short time it seemed that everybody who was playing the game that night, became involved in running all around the known game world, looking for Roxy, Yelling her name- wondering what happened to her. They found her, wounded and delirious in a darkened alley near the centre of town – and no longer pregnant. It felt to me like I’d fallen into a very engaging world where the players drove the story lines and suddenly, the potential here had no limits.
— A couple months later I went to stay with her for a weekend. As we drove around on things no more complicated than me accompanying her on grocery shopping we talked about the game world and the different races the characters could be part of. I jokingly came up with a cat person character named Purcival Alleyscourge. She got a good chuckle, but then later, that evening, she deleted one of her characters that she’d become bored with and rolled up Purrcival Alleyscourge. She was surprised at some high ‘stats’ and chose the recommended ‘Class’ or occupation of ‘Thief’. Still later, when she was tired and I was still much too wide awake, she suggested I get on her computer and wander around the game world as Purrcival. I did. I encountered an evil NPC rogue who jumped out of nowhere and nearly beat Purrcival to death, yelled ‘help’ when a passerby wandered by and that character stepped in and saved Purrcy’s hide. I found out my friend secretly had two accounts, one based on the west coast, where she came from, and one on the east coast, where she was going to school. For the next couple weeks she let me sign in to one account while she was on the other, and we interacted. About a month later she asked me to house sit her apartment while she went to visit her parents for a week and I spent more time as Purrcival and after she came back east I went home and activated my own account at GEnie and rolled up a character or two, and she deleted Purrcival and I rolled him up on my account. Purrcival changed occupations, as some of the cat people he hung out with did not approve of thieves. He made good friends quickly, even fell in love with one character who proposed marriage to him. Since I could not afford to be playing the game during prime time at eighteen bucks an hour, I wrote stories about the characters. And when GEnie held a story writing contest to promote their money-making games, I submitted a couple and won a second and a third prize. The friends I made there back then were very creative types, many of them went on to become paid elders in the game and concocted some of the scenarios – plots that drove the game, one plotted and created a haunted house, wrote all the room descriptions, sent them to the game’s owners and they liked his ideas, ‘built’ the haunted house, and gave him a ‘position’- I’m not sure whether he immediately became one of the paid members of the staff, or got to play for free as long as he contributed designs and plots for scenarios.
— One of the fun things that would happen is when several of us would sign on as soon as the price dropped on the east coast and met in the town square and the ‘psychic’ characters would give those of us whose characters were not psychic the gift of ESP so we could communicate on the PSI channel and not drive the more serious gamers crazy. We could send messages directly from our character to theirs, or broadcast to anyone who had ESP in the game. I jokingly sent silly suggestions to the elders and, one night one of the elders contacted me through the ‘psi-net’ and asked what was happening tonight. I shrugged in real life and said, “Oh- it feels like grumble bunny from hell night around here- but I have to go- catchya later-” & after signing off, I got a call long distance from my friend who could barely contain her laughter, saying that the elders had whipped up a bunch of wimpy characters, with little or no ‘treasure’, called them ‘Grumble Bunnies’ and there was a mass invasion of the town square of these weird creatures whose annoying attacks would cause minor damage, nothing life threatening, but enough to encourage the players characters in the town square to clear the town square of the annoying grumble bunnies. I sent email to the game owners with suggested buildings, suggested new races, and got positive encouragement from the head owner, who said he was looking at giving me some kind of a ‘position’ that might be a free account or even a paid one. So I wandered all around the game, captured every description of every ‘room’ I could. When the elders asked for ‘sign painters’ to paint signs for a number of places around the town square I jumped in, sent them at least sixteen suggestions and was promised a really nifty in-game object with magical abilities attached to it. Then I got laid off from a job I had and couldn’t afford to play any more. And the owner told me that someone he’d given a free account to had ‘burned him’ by playing all the time and did not contribute half of what had been expected of him, so he, the owner, wasn’t going to be giving away any free accounts for a while.
— And now let me get to some kind of point here. Playing that game back then, when it was still in its early development stage, was fun and gave me insights into what kind of on-line games appealed to people. There were more or less two groups of players. There were the finesse players who wanted to develop characters who were unique and had definite personalities, quirks, idiosyncracies, tastes, and in general, gave that world a lot of character and culture. Characters gathered in the town square and told jokes, pretended to get drunk, enjoyed each other’s company- more than two couples I know of met in real life after playing in the game and got married. I know at least one couple is still married.
— Then there were the rabid hackers and slashers. The kind of players who enjoy first person shooters and want to kill everything and everyone in sight. The finesse players would spend hours, weeks, and months developing their characters and the hack and slash trolls would come along and attack and made life so miserable for my friends that they stopped playing that game.
— I remember complaining about something over the ‘Psi-net’ one evening and got the immediate response: “If this game is driving you nuts, why don’t you write your own game?” I was stunned. I started plotting and planning my own game. My rocky experience with employment had me either too exhausted to try to seriously get down and develop my own game or just broke enough so I couldn’t afford whatever new bit of software was required to put something together that anybody else would want to play.
— I wrote a text game in applesoft basic when the program limit was 32k- I could write a character rolling program, link it to an area with six ‘rooms’ give the characters healing skills to heal wounded npcs and sword fighting skills to defend themselves. I could link programs so the characters could go off and defend the world from maintenance robots that some evil genius had programmed to kill anything living, & when ‘killed’- the robots exploded and left something on the ground worth picking up, carrying to the local merchant program where their treasures were sold for silver and gold & and they could buy better weapons. If they wanted, they could go off into six-room wilderness area where they could search for herbs. Good herbs would improve their stats. Bad herbs would reduce them. They had to learn the difference. Or they could go to a one room area where they could become blacksmiths and hammer out weapons with random success, and keep their weapons or sell them to a merchant would appear each time they finished a weapon and offer them something for it. Silver or gold. My nephews, who were six and ten years old at the time loved it. They didn’t realize they were moving from program to program when they moved from one ‘area’ to another.
— Then I learned to program in “C” and instead of 32k programs linked together, I could write 1 Meg programs and link them together. The long version of the character rolling program was 5 programs long, but explained everything about each race they thought they wanted to roll.
— And every time I thought I had something worth showing somebody – The ‘industry’ raised the bar on me to just beyond my reach. One 3D world engine that would work on a Mac or a PC cost $138.00 to buy, and I could mess around with it, but I couldn’t get it to save anything that would consistently work when I tried to open it next time. That company announced their new and improved version, it went on sale for $250.00 when I couldn’t afford that much, and the next time I had two hundred and fifty bucks the price had gone up to $1,000.
— Another game engine was advertised on the web, I went and looked at it, viewed the video propaganda and noticed the price wasn’t listed anywhere. I sent email and a company executive asked me what my budget was like and wouldn’t answer my ‘how much does this cost?’ until I told him I’d been looking at the $1,000 program and he informed me that his company’s game engine cost six figures.
— Then a game engine in a ‘cloud’ came along, got my email address from somewhere and recruited me with a free account because they needed to know how many games could be developed in each server without blowing that server up and causing it to crash. I got busy creating my world, watched it change from my original idea into what their game engine could produce, and I was doing pretty well, until I reached a conclusion that the help I needed from other developers would not be coming and I couldn’t go any further unless the universe dropped several thousand dollars in my lap.
“Xyreana”, shown here, is the one builder character / Experiment with facial morphing etc. – who came through the process looking happy. She’s wearing a Bard woman’s bodice and a Wizard’s short skirt, so she looks like any lonely computer nerd’s vision of the woman he might meet in a game who will of course throw herself at him, take him as he is and demand nothing but wild and passionate love from him. But, because I still have to figure out how and why she came out so smilingly happy, I kept her around, anyway.
— And now, in the last couple weeks, the spiffy HP computer I bought specifically to develop the game, because it was fast, had a great graphics card and a poop load of RAM- started crashing whenever I was trying to do anything with graphics – the computer doesn’t care if I write my brains out in Open Office or Word Press – & I can surf ad nauseam, but as soon as I try to do anything that’s heavy into graphics the card has a melt down and the monitors go black and say they are receiving no signal. boom – crash – dead.
— But then, last night – Wednesday Night/Thursday Morning – on Coast to Coast AM they interviewed a guy named Gordon Asher Davidson, who talked about the battle between good and not so good aliens over the future of this planet, Earth – and his take – whether it is poetically true or actual fact-based – was quite uplifting. The evil idjits who have been trying to manipulate us for centuries, if not millenniae – who were responsible for 9-11-2001 and world war two and every divide and conquer manipulation including the re-writing of the Christian Bible to fit into the Romans’ view of how they wished to rule the world- etc. have been removed from power. They still have their human agents in place who are trying their damnedest to hit us with false flag operations, but have not been able to pull off anything really big since the twin towers attack which gave them the atmosphere of terror they wanted in order to convince good old Americans to gleefully surrender loads of constitutional rights and all that under the Homeland Security (Bull Chips!) Banner – And every day more and more of the dark minded bad guys’ shenanigans are being dragged into the light and pretty soon the banksters will be strung up by their private parts in public and stripped of their ill-gotten gains, with – for instance – all the money and resources and basically anything of value that the IMF is trying to steal from everybody, everywhere on the planet, will be going back to the people it was stolen from. The US Government will have to pay back everybody they fleeced with their student loan scams, Banksters will either wake up in jail or in an alternate reality, believing they’re still in control here, until the fruit of their labours turns that reality to a wasteland – Anybody who will not be able to stand the atmosphere of Love and Forgiveness, Peace, Love, Harmony, Evolutionary Giant Steps and all that, will just not be here. So of course somebody who’s been duped by the re-written parts of the Bible had to call up and accuse Gordon of being a liar and an agent of the devil because everybody knows, it will be the good Christians who will be raptured off the planet, not the evil ones who will wake up somewhere else and not know they’re not here, messing with us any more.
— Um, I didn’t get much sleep last night, after a short sleep and a curious dream that my mother fell asleep while my sister, Sharon, and I were doing something together for Mom’s benefit- And then I had to get up, thought about trying something a bit different with my spiffy graphics computer, watched it blow up and crash more quickly than ever, so I sighed and cleaned a little bit of clutter away while I was waiting for the spiffy computer to come back up from its self checking after a crash routines.
— I really felt good about the future. Everything that guy said was resonating as “True” and passing through my not quite perfect B.S. filter – and I went back and thought about everything I’d been trying to do with creating with the goal of running an MMO-RPG world that lived up to the highest of my pretty high standards – which would mean that the hackers and slashers would have their own island where they could drive each other crazy, and wouldn’t have much fun in the areas where the finesse players wanted to hang out. I built the original game so my nephews could play something they were interested in and didn’t have to kill everything in sight to thrive and advance. I’d ‘created’ wounded Non-Player-Characters who would be nearly dead on a battlefield, where healing characters could come along, heal the wounded, get loads of experience, and when the wounded characters reached an acceptable (to them) level of health, they would sit up, thank the healer, and give them a random weapon or halfway valuable item that the healer could either keep or cash in next time they went to the market or came across a wandering merchant. Several players I talked to loved that idea. The couple of game owners I talked to didn’t want to be bothered, they said they would have to create a whole new class of NPC’s and that would be a pain in the butt. -B.S.-
— But as I thought more about my ideas for that game, the more I felt like I was contributing more to the light side of things than to the dark, and I began to remember the psychics I had met through my job as a video producer for a cable teevee outfit, and how they’d looked like they wanted to roll their eyes and get away from me when I told them I’d been trying to create my interactive computer game – and then they’d look astounded, like they were getting a message from somewhere and turn to me with a new light in their eyes and say, “Yes- that game of yours can be successful, but only if you stick to your original ideas and don’t let anybody talk you into doing it the old ‘tried and tested’ way, which would destroy your basic concept and drag that game down and contribute to the dark side of things.
— So, If the light side of things, the Freedom of Choice and the aliens in the Federation of Light – or whatever – want to help me with this, they know where I am. And if this is something that angels of light and all those agents of God who want to help us silly humans manifest Heaven on Earth – believe is worth completing – a wonderful new computer or a spiffy new (working) video card will almost magically appear here in my slowly becoming uncluttered office.
🙂 — 🙂